San Francisco Art Institute Professor Critiques Paintings by James Franco, Johnny Depp, and Others

James Franco, Fat Squirrel (2013).
Johnny Depp, Keith Richards.

Johnny Depp, Keith Richards.

We can’t believe we didn’t think of this first. Alex Mak, a blogger at Broke-Ass Stuart approached San Francisco Art Institute painting professor Mark Van Proyen to get his expert opinion on the recent influx of celebrity artists.

But rather than simply mocking the art world’s ongoing obsession with celebrity (which, we know, is fun to do— see We Rank 16 Celebrities Aspiring to Art World Recognition—Who Will Win?) Van Proyen actually critiqued works by James Franco, Johnny Depp, Lucy Liu, and others.

Spoiler alert: he didn’t like most of them.

Stuart showed Van Proyen one of James Franco’s “Fat Squirrel” paintings, which inspired his most recent exhibit at Siegfried Contemporary in London. “[T]hese are visual fart jokes,” commented the professor. “Laced with a frosting of Hollywood irony. It’s a witless attempt at wit.” (artnet News delivered its own critique of Franco’s art back in April of 2014—see Why James Franco’s Cindy Sherman Homage at Pace Is Not Just Bad But Offensive.)

James Franco, Fat Squirrel (2013).

James Franco, Fat Squirrel (2013).

Van Proyen was similarly unimpressed by a Johnny Depp painting of Keith Richards:”I feel bad because I like Johnny Depp…but this is a terrible painting…Depp is using paint as a drawing medium and he doesn’t really understand painting.”

The professor was also displeased with the artistic endeavors of Pierce Brosnan, Sylvester Stallone, and Rosie O’Donnell.

However, of Lucy Liu’s calligraphy, he only had good things to say: “This is really good calligraphy…her brush handling, if not masterful, is certainly vert good.” Who knew? He was also complimentary of an abstract canvas by Viggo Mortenson.

Lucy Liu, Fertility.

Lucy Liu, Fertility.

The moral of the story here is that it’s never not fun to listen to an art professor make fun of celebrities.

Luckily, Broke-Ass Stuart teased the next installment of this series, which will reportedly feature the work of Paul McCartney, Bono, Joni Mitchell, and yep, former president George W. Bush (see George W. Bush is Still a Bad Painter). Is it too late to make a request for Miley (see Miley Cyrus Makes Erotic Sculptures)?

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Article topics
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In